We’re excited that “Luann” comic strip author Greg Evans created a series of special strip about Books For Treats which ran Halloween week 2009…

Luann Supports Books for Treats

Click on the image for a clearer view

Click on image for clearer view

Spry Health  magazine mentioned Books For Treats October 2009. This magazine is distributed to 9 million households in national newspapers.

Since Halloween 2001, we’ve given up to 10,000 books each year to excited, costumed Willow Glen trick-or-treaters. Then-Mayor Ron Gonzales, then-Councilman Ken Yeager, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio joined us in greeting the kids and happy parents..

We were featured in the media to nearly 2 million viewers/listeners/readers. Take a peek at some great pictures and links to some of the stories from our Media/News  page. Mike Cassidy wrote a column in the San Jose Mercury News  about Books For Treats, as well as in his blog. Read the article about Books For Treats  published in the June/July ’07 American Association for the Advancement of Science magazine.

What is Books For Treats?

Books for Treats is a non-profit (501c3) movement that encourages you to give gently read children’s books at Halloween instead of candy.

Why give children books instead of candy at Halloween?

Books feed children’s minds, while candy only feeds their cavities. Books encourage children to read, and parents to read with them and/or ask them about their books. Many children rarely receive books as gifts, so even gently read books are special treats.

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a report revealing that the average 15- to 24-year-old spends seven minutes daily on “voluntary” reading. If we kindle children’s excitement about reading before they are teenagers, they will continue the habit into adulthood.

Why would I want to go to the trouble of giving books? Candy is much easier to buy.

Trick-or-treaters pick their book

Do you recycle? If so, do you think it is a lot of work? No. You believe in supporting the planet by recycling materials so they don’t go into the landfill. Books For Treats takes a little more time than buying a giant bag of candy, but if you believe that you can help turn Halloween from a cavity-, obesity-, diabetes-contributing holiday into one that shows that society cares about our children, then it’s worth the extra effort.

Giving books instead of candy shows kids you care about them and are encouraging them to read. This not only helps raise their interest in reading, but raises their feeling that the community cares about their future. Literacy is key to success in today’s society. Book reading encourages curiosity, imagination and life-long learning.

“This is such an amazingly generous idea.” –Lynsey Georgiades 

Why is candy a problem?

A young Books For Treats fan

According to Nielsen Research, approximately $9.1 billion of candy was sold during the 2017 Halloween season, a new record, according to the National Confectioner’s Association (NCA). The average person spends nearly $16.45 on the Halloween candy — much of it being consumed before Halloween by the adults or their kids.

The average Jack-O-Lantern bucket holds about 250 pieces of candy amounting to about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar, according to the California Milk Processors Board.

Childhood diabetes is increasing alarmingly. Couple that with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which show that today at least one in four children are 20% or more heavier than their ideal weight. It is clear that we do not need to be giving children more candy. We need a healthy alternative — one that “feeds kids’ minds, not their cavities!”

Parents complain that their kids are hyper before and after Halloween as they eat so many more sweets than usual. Parents have to limit the amount of candy their kids eat, which creates fights, crying and problems. There are safety concerns as well. Many parents either throw away unwanted candy or bring it to work for their coworkers to eat! Not a good solution.

Many adults find Halloween candy is a problem for them, as some eat it before Halloween, eat candy from their kids’ bags, or eat leftover candy brought to work by coworkers. Just think of the favor you’ll be doing for your waistline by not having Halloween candy to contend with!

How would I get inexpensive books? Kids’ books are expensive!

Dinosaurs who read don’t go extinct!

“I have done Books for Treats at our home for the last 2 years. This will be my third year. Each year I obtain a wider selection of books. I collect them year round from garage sales, thrift stores, and library book sales. Kids LOVE it.” — Christine Tyler, San Jose resident 

Many libraries hold regular book sales. Call your nearest branch to see when the next sale is. A common library-sale price is $1/inch (stack up the books and measure along the spines). You can get 2 to 5 books for $1, depending on their thickness, so for the price of a candy bar you can give “brain candy” instead.

If you need to suppliment your own book stash, take inventory of how many you already have in each grade category, so you’ll know how many more you’ll need for your trick-or-treaters. For guidance on how to tell the grade levels of the books you have, download our kit, as guidelines are in it.

If you’re in San Jose, branch libraries sell inexpensive children’s books through their Friends of the Library sales.

We’ve also created an alliance with Scholastic to allow you to buy books at a deep discount. You need to complete their application and send/fax it to them (put “Books For Treats” in how you heard about the program). They will then give you your member number to use when ordering. 

I culled our personal books last year and gave them out at the door with some candy. The books were a HUGE hit!” —Cathy W., Schenectady, NY

Why give gently read books instead of new books? Won’t kids think that is cheesy?

Books a-peal to this top banana

Kids appreciate books, even gently read books, as long as they are in good shape. You’ll need to screen the books to make sure the books aren’t ripped or marked up, although they may have the previous owner’s name in the front and/or a library stamp.

“I escorted five fourth grade boys trick-or-treating and they were thrilled the most about receiving a Books For Treats book. When the boys saw their friends they exclaimed ‘Look at the cool book from the lady across the street!’ When we arrived home, I quickly hid the bag of candy. My son Jeremy didn’t even ask for the candy; he begged for the book that he received from Books For Treats!” —Catherine Edwards

“They were leaving here, waving their books and running to their mothers, saying, ‘I got a book. I got a book!’ It’s not a trick. It’s a treat….We enjoy seeing the kids get excited about getting a book.” —Ann Reeves, Kennewick, Oregon

What will the kids think about getting books instead of candy?

Kids choose from an array of age-appropriate books

Our experience is that kids, as well as their parents, are thrilled by receiving books for treats. They are much more enthusiastic than we have ever seen them when we gave candy. We have witnessed many children running to the sidewalk waiving a new treasure yelling, “Mom, look! I got a book!” We also see a group of kids standing on the sidewalk showing each other their books. We heard one girl greet a friend coming from the other direction “Hey, this house gives books! Cool!”

When asked what she thought of Books For Treats, seven-year-old Alana said, “I like books better than candy. A book lasts a long time and candy is gone in a bite! And I can sit on my daddy’s lap and read the book over and over with him.”

“I offered books this Halloween. Two children were so excited they left their sacks of candy at the door and took off with the books — they had to come back later and retrieve their candy (and they thanked me again for the books). Some of the older kids wanted to know if they could have more than one book.

“Next year I am going to do again. The kids were excited to get something other than candy and books were the treat. I just loved their looks of surprise when the ‘book basket’ came out and they could pick the one they wanted.” –Joan Nettesheim

“Kids were squealing with joy and delight….I think I got more joy than they did. They didn’t want the candy. They kept yelling to each other, ‘Hey, this is the house with all the books.'” —County Commissioner Lisa Weik, in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

How do I get involved?

  • Gather gently read children’s books to give to your trick-or-treaters.
  • Download our kit to help you sort your books by grade level.
  • Volunteer to help (fill out the form on the left)
  • Have your company become a sponsor
  • Make a tax-deductible donation of any amount through Venmo to info@BooksForTreats.org. We appreciate any funds, as they help us purchase books, provide PR to get the word out, and keep our website up to date.
  • Talk to your friends, co-workers and neighbors about participating in Books for Treats. Send them a link to this website.

“Thanks for getting me involved in Books for Treats. This has turned into one of the premier events in downtown Campbell. The community has really embraced Books for Treats.” –Bob Carlson, Campbell Rotary Books For Treats Chair

I have books to donate and I’m in San Jose

You can drop off books at the Comerica Bank Willow Glen branch on Lincoln.

If you have over 200 of books to donate, call Rebecca Morgan, founder and Executive Director of Books For Treats, at 408/998-7977, or email. She’ll arrange a drop off or pick up of your books.

Will Books For Treats be giving out books again to trick-or-treaters on Willow Glen’s Lincoln Avenue?

Sign up for updates in the form on the right sidebar to get information on the hours for the 2018 events in San Jose and Campbell.

In Willow Glen, we’ll be giving out books to trick-or-treaters at the Garden Theater on Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125 on Tue., Oct. 31, 11:00-12:30 for Kindergarten kids and younger, and 3:00-4:30 for first through sixth graders.

“Last year on Halloween, while it was still light out, my husband was working out in front of our house. Two girls were walking by and one said ‘I think this is the one.’  Then she asked if this was the house that gives books for Halloween. When he said yes she said, ‘We’ll see you tonight!'” —Denise Fuller, Oregon

Who’s supporting this program?

This project is supported by, among others:

Thanks to Willow Glen Boy Scout Troup 233 — and our supporter Vince — for transporting 2 pallets of books. We greatly appreciate their strong backs and community spirit!

How do I give out gently read children’s books at Halloween?

Collect books. Then download our kit to help you sort your books by grade level. It has a full set of instructions on how to sort the books, how to make it easy to give books to your trick-or-treaters, and even signs for your door so kids — and parents — know you’re a book-giving house.

“I distributed 697 books to trick-or-treaters at my house in Southbridge, MA last night. Your kit was a huge help in terms of getting things organized and sorting the books by reading level.

“It was very easy to collect donations of books for younger kids from parent friends whose kids had outgrown them. I ended up calling Friends of Library organizations and negotiating bulk sales for about $10 per box.” —Amelia

Will I be able to buy books from Books For Treats?

We’ve created an alliance with Scholastic to allow you to buy books at a deep discount. You need to complete their application and send/fax it to them (put “Books For Treats” in how you heard about the program). They will then give you your member number to use when ordering.

We’ve also created an alliance with Books4School which allows you to purchase books even if you’re not affiliated with a school. Books start as low as $.95 and you can sort their catalog by age group, price, etc.

We are in discussion with other publishers to allow you to get very reasonably priced books to give to your trick-or-treaters. Simply fill out and submit the form on the left and we’ll email you when books are ready to be ordered.

“I’m so glad I did this! Your downloadable kit made it so easy! This was so fun!!! We are off the main trick or treating route in a well-to-do suburb of Birmingham, AL called Mountain Brook. Kids here can absolutely afford books and are well educated, so I was afraid they’d think it was goofy but they loved it!! A pack of 6th grade boys said it was “awesome and cool” with genuine excitement. A few little girls ran back to their parents screaming happily, “Look mama, I got a book!” I’ve been telling everyone I know about it yesterday and today! Thanks for your organization! ” —Laura McLester

Where are Books For Treats events?


Visit and like our Facebook page

Tweet about us @BooksForTreats

Want to talk to someone about how you can help?

Contact Rebecca Morgan, founder and Executive Director
408/998-7977 or email.

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